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All Employees Earn Sick Time in MA

On Friday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued final regulations regarding the Earned Sick Time law in the state, a measure that was approved by voters back in November.

The new mandate requires that all Massachusetts employers provide their employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year.

This newly defined, earned sick time can be used for a number of reasons. Acceptable uses include caring for a child, parent, or spouse who is suffering from a mental illness, injury or medical condition that requires professional care; caring for the employee’s own physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition that would require the same kind of care; attending routine medical appointments or appointments for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, etc.; and addressing the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence as defined in the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Law.

The final revisions to the law come in the form of a new Safe Harbor provision surrounding the 2015 requirements pertaining to part-time employees.

The previous Safe Harbor - issued May 18th - mandated that employers with a paid time off policy in existence as of May 1, 2015 that provides employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year, will be given a six-month period from July 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016 to transition and comply with these new regulations.

Under the amended provision, businesses – including health clubs – that have a policy in existence on May 1, 2015 that provides for paid time off or sick leave will be considered to be in compliance with the new Earned Sick Time law until the start of 2016 given that:

  • Full-time employees on the policy will have the right to acquire and use 30 hours of paid time off/sick time between January 1 and December 31, 2015.
  • On or after July 1, 2015, employees not previously covered by the policy (part-time, seasonal, temporary, per diem, etc.) must:

- acquire paid time off at the same rate as eligible full-time employees

- if the company policy provides time off in lump sum allocations (annually, monthly, etc.), employees who were not covered prior to the change must receive a prorated lump sum based on the provision of paid time off to eligible employees.

- if the employee is not an hourly or salaried worker, they must receive a lump sum of paid time off according to an approximation of their total hours worked.

All full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees will be covered under this new law - with an “employee” being defined as any person that performs services for an employer for “wage, remuneration, or any other compensation.”

It is also important to note the difference in regulation based on the size of your health club. Health clubs that house eleven or more employees are now required to provide 40 hours of earned paid sick time to all employees, whereas, clubs maintaining less than eleven employees must provide employees with the right to accrue and use 40 hours of unpaid sick time.

The law will be enforced by the Attorney General, using the same enforcement guidelines that regulate state wage laws and at this time, health club employees will have the right to file a lawsuit should their earned sick time rights be violated.

As an added measure, the Attorney General has created a Notice of Employee Rights pertaining to this new Earned Sick Time Law. This poster must be displayed in all employee work areas and an additional copy must be provided to all employees in the state.

IHRSA, along with many clubs in the state, is facing some difficulty implementing this law. We would like to be able to assist any clubs handling some of the same issues during this transition period.

If you are a Massachusetts club owner or employee and would like to know more about these changes to the current Earned Sick Time law, please do not hesitate to contact IHRSA’s public policy team at

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